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Light Bites

From kitchen experts, here are five easy recipes for healthier snacking.

Black-eyed Pea Hummus

A Southern staple reinvents this spread, lending it a heartier texture and earthier flavor.

  • 4 cups cooked black-eyed peas
  • 4 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1½ cups olive oil

Directions: Place all ingredients, except oil, in a food processor. While adding the oil, pulse until the oil combines with other ingredients. Serve with carrots, sliced cucumbers, and pita chips.—Hal Holden-Bache, executive chef, Lockeland Table, Nashville, Tennessee

Seasoned Fruit

The sweetness of basil plays against the acidity of these fruits, while chile powder adds a subtle warmth.

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 big pinch salt
  • 1 small pinch chile powder
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 8-12 cups of sliced fruit (1 pineapple, 1 watermelon, 4-6 peaches or mangoes)

Directions: In a food processor, pulse the basil, sugar, salt, and chile powder until the mix takes on a green tint. Set aside. Toss the fruit in a bowl with the lime juice. Scatter mixture over top to taste. —Adam Erace, food writer and recipe developer

Frozen Yogurt Fruit Pops

Summer should be all about economizing your time, not fussing around in a hot kitchen. This treat is as quick as it is delicious. The color will vary depending on the fruit you use.

  • 4 cups unsweetened full-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender. Pulse until smooth (or chunky for fruit pieces in pops). Pour equally into molds or small paper cups. Place craft stick in center and freeze until solid.—Joshua Blackwell, executive chef, Sweet Jon’s Cafe, Birmingham, Alabama

Baked Mushroom Chips

These dehydrated shiitakes are like thick potato chips with shades of vegetarian bacon.

  • 2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms (about 20)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Directions: Soak mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes, and then remove stems. With a rolling pin, roll over once to flatten and squeeze out water. Toss with oil, salt, red pepper, and garlic power, and then lay on pan, gill-side down, making sure none touch. Bake for 45 minutes at 375 F, turning over halfway through. Let cool before eating. —Naomi Tomky, food writer and recipe developer

Miso-oat Travel Bars

These bars pack a punch in flavor and energy and are perfect for a long flight or road trip.  Although they require a fair amount of toasting and chopping, the results are more than worth it.

  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup nut butter or tahini
  • 2 tablespoons miso
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 heaping cup medjool dates (about 14), pitted and chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, or chocolate chips

Directions: Heat the oven to 325 F and spray or grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan.

Spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned; keep a close eye on it because it will burn quickly. Set the coconut aside, let it cool completely, and then remove it from the baking sheet.

Turn the oven up to 350 F. Spread the oats and almonds on the baking sheet used for the coconut and on an additional rimmed sheet. Toast until they’re browned and fragrant, about 7 minutes.

While the oats and almonds are toasting, in a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together the maple syrup, nut butter, and miso until fully combined and there are no more lumps of miso. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool completely.

Once the almonds are cool enough to handle, chop them into bite-size pieces and put them in a large bowl with the oats, pumpkin seeds, coconut dates, and chocolate. Stir everything together with a spoon, or use hands to work the date pieces into the mixture. Pour the cooled syrup–nut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir together with a wooden spoon until everything is evenly coated.

Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan; it helps to use something flat, like the bottom of a measuring cup. Refrigerate for at least a few hours and up to overnight to allow the mixture to firm up. Cut into even bars—this makes about 16—using a very sharp knife or pizza cutter. Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at room temperature, or freeze them.

—Rebecca Flint Marx, food writer and recipe developer


Photography by Stephen DeVries, Naomi Tomky (baked mushroom chips), and Rebecca Flint Marx (miso-oat travel bars)

Originally Published July 2018